New Delhi : The Supreme Court Monday asked two Britons, acquitted by the Bombay High Court of charges of sexually abusing destitute boys in a Mumbai orphanage run by them, to mark their presence in the country by reporting twice to a police station in the metropolis every fortnight.
A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam issued the direction to the two Britons, Duncan Grant and Allan Waters, while hearing a joint appeal by the Maharashtra government and children rights body Childline against their acquittal.
The apex court had on Aug 1 asked Mumbai police not to release their passport without its permission, pending disposal of the appeal against their acquittal by the high court.
The bench had also asked Childline to apprise the British High Commission in Mumbai and Delhi of its order so that they did not end up issuing duplicate passports to their citizens on possible false pleas that they have lost them.
The bench Monday, however, asked the two Britons to keep marking their presence in the country by reporting to Mumbai’s colaba police station, acceding to the arguments by Fali S. Nariman, who appearing for the child right body, said that the arrangements made by the apex court to stop the duo from leaving the country was “not enough and fail proof.”
“The country has a porous border and one can leave it through Nepal or any other route at any point of time,” said Nariman.
After issuing the directions to the Britons, the bench said that it would hear the appeal against their acquittal tentatively in February.
The Bombay High Court had on July 23 acquitted the Britons along with their alleged Indian accomplice William D’souza of the charges of sexually abusing orphan teenagers staying at Anchorage in Mumbai.
The high court had acquitted them reversing a trial court judgement, which had in 2006 jailed them for six years besides imposing a fine of 20,000 pounds on the two Britons.
Grant and Waters, both former British Royal Navy personnel-turned charity workers, had been convicted by the sessions court under Sections 377 (unnatural sex) and 373 (buying minor for purposes of prostitution) of the Indian Penal Code.
However, the high court had acquitted them due to lack of evidence.
Anchorage Shelter Home in Colaba in south Mumbai was set up by Grant for poor street children of the area. Two other homes were also set up in Cuffe Parade in south Mumbai and Murud in neighbouring Raigad.
Grant and Waters had also been accused of allowing many foreign nationals to visit the shelters and allowing rampant sexual exploitation of the children.
The police had booked Grant, Waters and D’souza in 2000 on the complaint of a 15-year-old boy, who had said that the trio had been sexually abusing him and four other boys of the orphanage.
The police subsequently in 2001 filed its charge-sheet indicting the two men for sexually abusing boys at the Anchorage shelter.
Grant belongs to Hampstead in north London, while Allan Waters, 60, belongs to Porchester, Hampshire. Waters was arrested at New York’s JFK airport in 2003 on an Interpol warrant and extradited to India.
The home’s manager, D’souza, was sentenced to three years in jail in 2006 and also fined after the court heard allegations that he beat boys in the shelter to prevent them from complaining to other social workers or the police.